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The Happiness Hypothesis

Posted on 22 June, 2015 at 3:20



“[Albert] Ellis, who went on to write dozens of books, built a straight-talk, action-oriented approach that challenged the Freudian model of examining childhood experience. “Neurosis is just a high-class word for whining,” he said. “The trouble with most therapy is that it helps you to feel better. But you don’t get better. You have to back it up with action, action, action.””

~ Daniel Coyle from The Talent Code


Love that. :) Coyle tells us that Ellis’s approach, combined with that of Dr. Aaron Beck, became known as cognitive-behavioral therapy—which we scientifically know is as effective as drugs in reducing depression, anxiety and other not-so-fun stuff.


At the heart of their model is practicing a new way of seeing the world and taking more effective actions in the face of our ickiness. We talk about it in our Note on Jonathan Haidt’s *genius* The Happiness Hypothesis where he says: “Depressed people are caught in a feedback loop in which distorted thoughts cause negative feelings, which then distort thinking further. Beck’s discovery is that you can break the cycle by changing the thoughts. A big part of cognitive therapy is training clients to catch their thoughts, write them down, name the distortions, and then find alternative and more accurate ways of thinking. Over many weeks, the client’s anxiety or depression abates. Cognitive therapy works because it teaches the rider how to train the elephant rather than how to defeat it directly in an argument.”


As we know from that Note, Haidt tells us that we have an Elephant that needs to be re-trained. Coyle’s model tells us how: It’s all about deep practice ignited by a vision of what’s possible fueled by passion and supported by strong teachers that enables us to re-wire our brains with myelin in all the right places.


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